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Overview - Embroidered Paintings - Silks & Woven Goods - Lacquer Ware - Ornamental Fans - Fashionable Scarves

Lacquer Ware : a Many-stepped Process

The traditional lacquer process as practiced in Vietnam is quite complicated and it can take up to 115 days to finish one piece. Even a simple bowl takes a minimum of 50 days. A typical piece of lacquer ware has been through twenty stages in the lacquering process. After reviewing the steps below, you might find that our photo gallery provides additional insight into this intensely "hands on" art form.

  1. Items constructed out of raw timber product are examined and any cracks and indentations are sealed with natural lacquer from the native lacquer tree. If the item is constructed from shaped bamboo it is also sealed with the natural lacquer.
     
  2. After ensuring that the natural lacquer has not affected the intended shape, the piece is covered with fine cotton gauze to ensure there will be no cracking at a later stage.
     
  3. The natural lacquer is then mixed with finely ground mountain rock, sawdust, and alluvial soil. Using a type of spatula, the piece is covered with a thick coating.
     
  4. When the coating has dried the piece is placed under water and is polished using a sharpening stone.
     
  5. Using a brush made from natural fibers, a mixture of alluvial soil and natural lacquer is painted onto the piece.
     
  6. When the coating has dried the piece is again placed under water and is polished using a sharpening stone.
     
  7. Again, using a brush made from natural fibers, a mixture of alluvial soil and natural lacquer is painted onto the piece.
     
  8. When the coating has dried the piece is again placed under water and is polished using a sharpening stone.
     
  9. The piece is covered with pure natural lacquer.
     
  10. This is the only stage that involves the use of machinery and even this is only to beat the natural lacquer to form
    a glutinous mixture. The natural lacquer is beaten for 24 hours.
    The piece is then thickly coated. .
     
  11. Once again the piece is polished under water with a sharpening stone
     
  12. The natural lacquer is again beaten for 24 hours. The piece is then coated thickly.
     
  13. Once again the product is piece under water with a sharpening stone.
     
  14. The base design is stenciled and the details are painted by hand. This is why every lacquer item is an original piece. No two pieces are quite alike.
     
  15. The surface areas without design is painted with lacquer and the areas with design are painted with a special clear lacquer.
     
  16. The whole piece is given a second coat of clear lacquer.
     
  17. A third coat of clear lacquer is applied.
     
  18. The piece is polished with wax.
     
  19. Hinges and locks are fitted if appropriate to the piece.

All tolled, lacquer ware pieces have thirteen to sixteen layers: please handle them with care. Do not soak, but wipe with a damp cloth after use. Nor can lacquer ware withstand high temperatures for serving food and hot dishes can not be placed directly onto it. The multiple layers make it very durable and you will have years of use if you look after it correctly. .

 

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